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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY             263

his country in military or civil office. It laid more stress on know-
ledge than on action, and the kind of knowledge it gave was a
very inadequate preparation for public life. The remedy for
these defects was found in a fundamental change in the curriculum
of studies. Latin was still taught as a subject which every gentle-
man ought to know, but its pride of place was gone. It was
learned in a somewhat perfunctory way, and composition in
prose or verse was generally omitted as unnecessary for men who
had no need to write Latin. With the decline of the classics the
modern languages and literatures rose in repute. A perfect
knowledge of French as the cosmopolitan language was of course
essential, and acquaintance with Italian was scarcely less im-
portant. Spanish and English were sometimes included as well.
Logic, rhetoric and dialectic, which still figured largely in the
universities, might receive cursory study, but the scholastic
philosophy was completely ousted by the philosophies of Descartes
and his successors. Further, in place of the old quadrivium,
mathematics and the new sciences were studied with direct
reference to their practical applications; and special attention
was given to history, geography, jurisprudence and politics
as aids to the art of government. Altogether, the studies of the
young gentleman, when pursued with thoroughness—as they
were apt not to be—were at least as comprehensive and as exacting
as those of the young scholar; and they had the advantage of
being supplemented by a careful training in the arts of polite
conduct to which nothing quite corresponded in the case of the
scholar. With all the learning imparted it was never forgotten
that he was to be a man of affairs and not a man of books, and at
least as much thought was given to the body as to the mind.
The manners and deportment which would enable him to bear
himself well in any situation were a matter of careful instruction,
and all the games that would fit him for active life in peace or war
—fencing, riding, hunting, tennis, dancing, etc.—entered into
the routine of his training. It was in many respects an ideal
education, and might with advantage have been extended, with
the necessary modifications, to young people of other classes.
But though it flourished through the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Centuries, and only disappeared when the whole regime of which
it formed part passed away with the changes wrought by in-
dustrialism and the French Revolution, its influence on the